Recognizing and perceiving meaningful patterns in an ever-changing environment is fundamental to (human) beings. Apophenia, patternicity, and the propensity to perceive meaningful coincidences might result from the human brain working as a prediction machine that constantly matches sensory information to prior expectations. The propensity for Type I errors varies between people and, at its extreme, is associated with symptoms of schizophrenia. However, on a nonclinical level seeing meaning in randomness might be benevolent and was found to be associated with creativity and openness. However, hardly any neuroscientific investigation has examined EEG patterns of the propensity to experience meaningful coincidences in this manner. We hypothesized deviations in brain functions as one potential reason why some people experience more meaning in random arrangements than others. The gating by inhibition theory suggests that alpha power increases represent basic control mechanisms of sensory processes during varying task requirements. We found that people perceiving more meaningful coincidences had higher alpha power during an eyes-closed versus eyes-opened condition compared with people experiencing less meaningful coincidences. This indicates deviations in the sensory inhibition mechanism of the brain, which are critically relevant for higher cognitive functions. Applying Bayesian statistics, we replicated this finding in another independent sample.

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